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Blackstone beefs up engineering muscle for nickel play

Blackstone Minerals has bolstered its engineering horsepower with GR Engineering Services, or ‘GRES’, as it heads towards the delivery of a definitive feasibility study into its upstream Ta Khoa Nickel Project.

The ASX-listed GRES is hailed as a ‘Tier 1’ process engineering, design and construction advisory company and will man the role of Blackstone’s primary consultant.

GRES holds an impressive list of current clients including Northern Star Resources, Calidus Resources and Abra Mining.

Blackstone says the latest member to join its ranks brings increased confidence to the upcoming study due to the recruit’s “excellent reputation with financing institutions.”

As the primary consultant, GRES will focus on the delivery of major workstreams including process infrastructure, metallurgical test work and co-disposal tailing storage. GRES will also co-ordinate, collaborate with and collate information from other key workstreams, including mining studies.

GRES adds to an already impressive team of engineers that are contributing to the design and development of the Ta Khoa Project. Blackstone continues to de-risk its development strategy both from a technical and funding perspective, and looks forward to updating the market as we take key steps towards a final investment decision.

Blackstone is focused on building an integrated upstream and downstream battery metals processing business in Vietnam that produces nickel-cobalt-manganese, or ‘NCM’, precursor products for Asia’s booming lithium-ion battery industry.

According to the International Energy Agency, the most common cathode chemistry used in electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries is NCM based.

Interestingly, Blackstone’s analysis of price action on the Shanghai metals markets shows the NCM811 precursor has historically traded at a premium of between 20 and 60 per cent on top of the regular nickel price.

It is no doubt metals, minerals and those involved in any capacity are set to play a major role in the impending clean energy revolution.

Interestingly a new report from Belgium’s KU Leuven University suggests achieving the European Union’s 2050 climate-neutrality goal is going to require a whole lot of nickel among a slew of other hotly-demanded metals.

Nickel is said to play an important role in solar, concentrated solar, wind, bio-energy, geo-thermal, hydro and nuclear power generation in addition to the battery storage, electric vehicle and hydrogen industries.

The report suggests 168 per cent more nickel will be required by 2050 for clean energy technologies when compared to overall use in 2020.

Specifically, when it comes to Europe’s battery sector, the continent is set to use more than double the nickel in 2050 than it does today.

With such unprecedented forecasts, if Blackstone is successful in its vertical integration it could find itself at the tip of the spear of a booming industry.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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